Proposed Maryland legislation attempting to further broaden the pre-litigation disclosure of policy limits fails.
August 15, 2017
During Maryland’s most recent legislative session, which ran from January 11, 2017 to April 10, 2017, legislation was proposed to expand the types of cases in which insurers must disclose policy limits to claimants before a lawsuit is ever filed. Under the proposed legislation, Senate Bill 144, insurers would have been required to disclose policy limits to claimants pre-suit in all types of tort cases, and not just cases arising out of motor vehicle accidents, as presently required. While the bill passed the Senate, the bill stalled in the House Judiciary Committee and was not enacted into law.
Senate Bill 144 was the most recent in a line of proposed legislation that has eroded an insurer’s ability to protect the disclosure of policy limits pre-suit by broadening a claimant’s ability to obtain that information. Before 2015, Maryland law required insurers to disclose policy limits pre-suit only in connection with claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents where the medical bills and lost wages were at least $12,500.00, and only if the claimant provided certain information regarding the claim (e.g. the date of the accident, the name and address of the tortfeasor, a copy of the accident report, the insurer’s claim number, medical records and bills, and lost wage documentation). However, in 2015, the General Assembly (Maryland’s legislative body) passed Senate Bill 146, which altered the statutes governing the pre-litigation disclosure of policy limits in two ways. First, the 2015 amendment eliminated the provision that had required a claimant’s medical bills and lost wages to exceed $12,500.00 before requiring disclosure of the policy limits. Second, the 2015 amendment eliminated a claimant’s obligation to provide insurers with medical records and bills, and lost wage documentation, before requiring disclosure of the policy limits. The 2015 amendment thus broadened a claimant’s ability to obtain policy limits pre-suit, at least in connection with motor vehicle accidents. Had it been passed into law, Senate Bill 144 would have further expanded this right by making the same applicable to any tort-based claim.